Investigating Reproductive Characteristics of Gray Triggerfish on Three Artificial Reefs in the Northwest Gulf of Mexico
A. M. Lee, C. E. Cintra-Buenrostro, and J. D. Shively
Abstract.—Artificial reefs in the northwest Gulf of Mexico act as preferential habitat for Gray Triggerfish Balistes capriscus (Gmelin, 1789) and are heavily targeted by local and international fishing efforts. Three artificial reefs off the south Texas coast were studied to investigate the reproductive characteristics of this ubiquitous reef member whose importance to both commercial and recreational fishing has resulted in a dramatic reduction in Gulf of Mexico-wide estimated biomass for the past 20 years. Characteristics examined included sex ratio, peak spawning season, batch fecundity of females (1 × 106 oocytes), fork length (FL, mm) at maturity, and batch fecundity as a function of FL or weight (i.e., Δ1 × 106 oocytes = ΔFL). These characteristics were investigated to build a foundational understanding of an understudied region of the Gulf and a relatively new artificial reef habitat. Reef sites managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Artificial Reef Program were sampled for 1 year, yielding 112 individuals. The sex ratio was 1:1 males to females but varied among sample sites, suggesting that an unidentified factor may have influenced aggregations of males and females. Spawning season was similar in other regions of the Gulf of Mexico (i.e., between June and August with a peak in July). Female batch fecundity was 7.36 × 105 ± 2.69 × 105 mature oocytes, and the batch fecundity to FL relationship was 14.353 × FL1.88, similar to other populations of Gray Triggerfish in the Gulf of Mexico.